Archive for category BDSM Errors

Relationship Update

At this moment, Joy and I are almost exclusively vanilla. I say “almost” because, me being me, there’s always a certain amount of manhandling and hands-above-head holding that’s going to happen during sex, but other than that… The cuffs are packed away, the paddles lie cold on their shelf, and while an occasional vibrator may see some use, the more extreme models remain in the back of the drawer. It’s quite different than we have been used to around here–the feeling of intense sexuality that used to permeate our house has faded, and been replaced with a feeling almost of waiting…for what, I’m not sure, but it sure feels like something is going to happen around here sometime soon.

We have been through a hiatus in our D/s relationship once before, and it lasted for several months, but that time was different. It was clear what had happened, and in fact, the break could be traced to a single event. This time, however, there was no discernible trigger event, and I’m still not entirely clear what has caused Joy to retreat from her submission. Joy does not seem to be very clear on it either.

As best as I can tell, several different factors seem to be contributing to the way Joy feels. These include:

  • Embarrassment: Joy has a powerful sense of shame, and for some reason it seems to have kicked in strongly around ttwd and some of the things we have done together. Spanking is particularly shameful to her, and she can hardly even talk about it. The embarrassment seems to have two sources–the first is Joy’s traditional conflict between what a strong woman “should” be like and the bedroom submission that so excites her. The second is her own self-image–she believes both that she’s no longer as attractive as she used to be (because she’s no longer twenty-something) and that she’s not very good at submission.
  • Fear: Joy is afraid that she might lose herself in submission, that the strong woman she prides herself in being might vanish and be replaced by something else…something less.
  • Outside stress: With an uncertain career situation at the moment, plus a variety of other external stressors, Joy feels a fair amount of general anxiety, and that doesn’t mix well with D/s for her. For Joy to feel comfortable enough to submit, she must feel secure in her life, and right now, that’s an issue.
  • Libido: Joy says that her libido has decreased abruptly. I’m not sure whether that is a physical change, or whether that is simply a result of the above factors combining to reduce her overall desire for sex.

While all this sounds rather distressing (and trust me, it is), at the same time I remain convinced that progress is being made. We are still talking about the situation, for one thing. For another, sex has improved over the past couple weeks. Despite her claims of low libido, Joy has recently been rather demonstrative in her enjoyment of our times in the bedroom, and that heartens me. We have also re-introduced a toy or two, and that makes for another step in the right direction. And I have seen how aroused Joy becomes when a hint of D/s is displayed while we are together, despite her rejection of it.

I espouse taking baby-steps and being satisfied with incremental progress when it comes to BDSM. It’s not easy, but I am having to follow my own prescription right now, being content with each inch forward and being patient when no forward progress is possible. Inch-by-inch we go, and hopefully eventually we will earn our way back to where we started. If not, then we will need to adapt. What we will become in that case, I cannot say for sure.

Enjoy yourself,


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It’s All a Game

In the end, consensual Dominance and submission is a game. It’s a game that a couple plays together, each partner fulfilling their own role. There are a set of “traditional” rules to follow, but the couple tweaks those rules as necessary to fit their own, individual needs and desires in a sort of kinky “Calvinball”. When played correctly, there are no losers—both partners play on the same side, and both win together. And when it is played correctly, it is fun. D/s engages the couple’s hearts, minds and libidos, mixing them in a churning mass of excitement and intimacy and fulfillment.

Oh, I know some people play the game very seriously—they might describe it more as a way of life than something that they play at. However, the fact that it is consensual, that each partner agrees to abide by the rules they have set and has the option to withdraw from the D/s arrangement at any time, makes it a game rather than a reality. That’s not meant to be disparaging, by the way. D/s is the best game I know—the one that has given me the most pleasure, and the one that I have enjoyed playing the most.

Because it is a game, D/s is more a luxury than a necessity. People play at things when they have leisure time, when the necessities of life have been met and they have time and resources to be able to expend against something fun. Many people would say that D/s is decadent, and in a sense, I suppose it is. Only situations where couples have free time and extra energy to spend together in private allow for consensual D/s. If you have to scratch to live and support your family, you have no time to play games. More than that, the stress that comes from uncertain living conditions can eat away at the trust necessary between the partners to allow D/s to flourish. Without sufficient trust, the game comes to a halt as one or both players decide not to participate.

Games are important, however. Maslow’s pyramid does not end at the subsistence level. We reach for the higher levels to try to attain happiness once basic needs are met. While I suspect Maslow may have had less carnal pursuits in mind, D/s and BDSM clearly fall into the “self-actualization” category, the highest tier of his pyramid. By engaging in D/s, we become more than we were before we started, and our relationship together becomes more than it was as well. It is something that we aspire to, together, as a couple.

In the past, I have stated my belief that a bedroom D/s arrangement may not be entirely stable. Dominance and submission tend to creep–they expand, slowly, outside the walls of the bedroom. This can happen both in physical ways and in mental ones. It takes active vigilance to stop them from gradually consuming more and more space within the relationship they inhabit. One cause of the issues that Joy and I are currently working our way through seems to have been that our D/s has crept beyond the bedroom, especially within Joy’s mind and self-image.

It can be quite easy to forget that it is all a game. It can be easy to forget that what one does is not the same as what one is…or perhaps, to fight the fear that what one does may be what one becomes. Joy, who has a strong will and a powerful intellect, has struggled with that. The boundaries of the bedroom weaken and blur, and she begins to feel lost in submission, as though it is threatening her ability to exist as her independent self outside of the boudoir.

As Joy and I have worked through the recent issues we’ve been having around D/s, many contributing factors have come to light. The failure to perceive BDSM as only a game, and the sense that it has expanded beyond the bedroom and into her normal life both appear to be causes. This is a lesson for me–part of the fun of D/s comes from making it seem as real as possible, but I must bear in mind not to make it too real, and to help Joy to remember that we play together.

Lessons learned for both of us…

Enjoy yourself,


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Not Good At It

Joy worries that she is not good at submission. Now, I don’t agree that she needs to worry, but I understand why she feels this way. Here are some of the reasons Joy, or anyone else in the submissive role, might potentially view themselves as being unsuccessful:

  • Submission is hard. Of course it is! Submission is hard by definition–if it was easy, no submission would be going on. Doing something because you are told to even though it is difficult is what makes for submission in the first place–otherwise it’s just riding along. If your partner instructs you to eat a piece of chocolate, is it really submissive to do so? I don’t think so. It’s when fear or pain or embarrassment or vulnerability or helplessness or some other obstacle is overcome that the submissive’s juices flow, the level of arousal and excitement rises, and serious submission takes place.

    Don’t get me wrong–every adventure does not require a major hurdle to be jumped. That would be far too much stress, I think, and adventures would become a thing of dread rather than something to be looked forward to. However, there must be some slight sense of reluctance, some internal resistance to be overridden, some instruction that is at least a bit challenging to obey even in the mildest D/s scenario before true submission is engaged.

  • Perfection in submission is not attainable (and in fact, I’m not even sure what it would look like). If it’s hard, doing it perfectly isn’t going to happen. Heck, even if it was easy, being perfect is unreachable. Mistakes will be made, and there will be times when the submissive feels they need to eject from the scenario or request to stop in some other way. There will also be times when the submissive has a hard time enjoying the activity the Dominant wants to engage in. These are simply unavoidable.

    Note, however, that in most cases, the primary fault for failures in submission lies with the Dominant rather than the submissive. When the Dominant pushes so far that the submissive feels the need to safe word out, then it’s the Dominant’s error in misreading their partner. If the Dominant, in the quest to engage a feeling of submission as described in the previous bullet, creates too great a challenge or causes more unhappiness or discomfort than excitement, then they own responsibility for the error.

    Joy being Joy holds herself to a very high bar, and therefore has a hard time with not being perfect. And she has a hard time as well with placing the blame for mistakes on me, even if I own up to them.

  • You never cross the finish line. Submission, like many things in life, is a journey rather than a destination. It’s not about reaching a final place where you stop–traveling the road is the point. As one practices submission, one’s skill improves. What was once unthinkable becomes possible and them commonplace. At one time, Joy told me she could never be tied spreadeagle because she’d feel too helpless. Now, spreadeagle is been-there-done-that, and I tie her in that position whenever it fits into a scenario. In other words, one learns and grows in one’s submission.

    Because one is always improving, there’s always another level of submission out there, something that is desired but not yet achieved. This contributes to the feeling of not being “good enough”, because there are things that one cannot yet do, ways in which one cannot yet submit. A good example is my desire for Joy to dress more provocatively in a public setting–she has a very difficult time with this, even though part of her wants to do it and she knows that I want her to do it. Therefore, she becomes frustrated with herself, seeing only what she cannot achieve and not noticing the progress she has made over the years.

I believe, in Joy’s case, that all of these factors have contributed to her sense of “not being good at submission”. The reality is, however, that Joy has come a long, long way on her journey over the years. And do you know what? Each of the points I listed above applies equally well on the Dominant side, and I, too, have come a long, long way. The good news is that we’ve traveled that road together, and each of us has helped the other through difficult patches.

More than anything else, I believe that submission is an attitude. It’s letting go and letting your partner steer. Your eyes may be open or closed, and you may be smiling or gasping, but when you give up control to your partner and you trust them to take care of you, you have submitted. There’s no manual that can lay out exactly how to submit or the steps to follow. Instead, I think it all comes down to relinquishing control, to that one moment, the moment when you feel the speed and know the drop is coming, but you let go of the safety bar and grasp your partner’s hand instead…

Enjoy yourself,


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Should a Dominant Apologize?

Better sit down, because I’m about to reveal something shocking! You know what? Once in awhile I make mistake. Don’t anybody tell Joy! I’m sure she has no idea that this is true, and I don’t want to burst her bubble!

The reality, of course, is that everybody makes mistakes. Though I am a planner and I try hard to think about contingencies and prevent anything from going wrong, sometimes I don’t foresee the way events will go, or how Joy will react to something, or exactly how one uses that particular toy. And the thrilling adventure I have planned goes off the rails, or the task I set for Joy doesn’t work, or the new idea I have doesn’t translate well into reality.

Joy, being the wise woman that she is, understands and cuts me some slack. That’s good–we all need a little slack sometimes. But here’s the question I want to talk about today. When something goes wrong and it’s my fault, should I tell Joy that I’m sorry? Should a Dominant ever apologize?

I believe that it is inarguable that in offering an apology, the Dominant gives up power. By it’s nature, an apology asks for forgiveness, and in a D/s relationship, the “D” tells instead of asks. That’s part of the fantasy–the submissive has no choice but to comply with the Dominant’s wishes. Asking for forgiveness breaks that paradigm, and in doing so, weakens the dynamic between the couple. If that were the only consideration, then perhaps the right answer would be “No…never apologize.”

However, it is not the only consideration. There is also the small matter of trust.

In BDSM, the submissive literally places themselves in the Dominant’s hands. They give up power to the point that they may be made helpless and unable to move, may be made to experience pain, may be required to do things that they ordinarily would never do. To do so, the submissive must trust that the Dominant will take care to see that they come to no harm, that they are kept safe. They must not only trust their partner’s intentions–that they will not do something harmful or abusive on purpose–but also their competence–that the Dominant is sufficiently knowledgeable and practiced to take proper precautions and avoid causing harm by accident.

Any Dominant mistake threatens the perception of competence, and any mistake that goes far enough to have unintended consequences to the submissive, such as discomfort or pain (the bad kind of pain, not the good kind), calls it into real question. In situations like this, where something has gone wrong enough that the submissive has felt the consequences, it is not only okay to apologize, but it is imperative that the Dominant do so.

If you, as the Dominant, do not acknowledge your error, it leaves the impression that you do not realize that you made a mistake. It also builds resentment within your partner, who may feel guilt that the activity did not go as planned, and who may easily believe you blame them for the problem. And it eats away at that bond of trust between you, the trust that allows submission to exist.

Asking forgiveness for your error does give up a modicum of power, it’s true. But it also conveys that you realize that things went wrong, that you take responsibility, and that you don’t blame your partner. It demonstrates that you are willing to learn from what happened, and therefore are less likely to make the same misstep again. And it shows as well that you’re not afraid to admit a mistake. There’s an old saying that “it takes a big man to apologize”, and there is much wisdom in these words.

The preservation of trust easily offsets any relinquishment of power the apology causes. It’s an easy trade. So the answer to my questions are “Of course I should tell Joy I’m sorry if I make a mistake,” and “Yes, a Dominant should absolutely apologize if it is warranted.” Of course, it’s better still to not make a mistake in the first place, but who among us can claim to be error-free all the time? I think the answer is likely nobody.

But don’t tell Joy!

Enjoy yourself,


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Uneasy Anticipation

Guest Post by Joy

It has been more than six months since I have written a post for Jake–the last one was right about the end of the year. Jake likes to know what is on my mind but, frankly, I still have difficulty with sharing what I’m thinking. We are (or at least I am) still in the whispering-in-the-dark stage.

My New Year’s Resolutions, if you remember them, quickly fell by the wayside. The first one I let go was to keep up with Jake’s blog on a regular basis. Something about having strangers peek into things that I have a hard time looking directly at myself, in spite of my immediate involvement, scared me off. I tend to be extremely private even in mundane matters, and the things he writes about are definitely not mundane.

In fact, I have learned that the less we speak of things, the more adventurous I am able to become. Nothing puts me off like Jake wanting to talk about the things we do in the bedroom or the playroom out in the open, in the kitchen or while I’m out in the garden. I do NOT want to discuss paddles or dildos while trying to braise the Brussels sprouts for dinner. I can give on-scene evaluations quite easily, but I do not want to be involved in the planning.

An experiment that I read about during my undergraduate studies has come to mind repeatedly over the past few weeks or months, and I needed to share it with Jake as a way to help explain at least one thing that affects my willingness to try new things. It has to do with anticipation. The experiment was done years ago on monkeys, and I think it would be considered too cruel to do today. I am sure that there are those out there who will be familiar with the experiment and be able to point out my inaccuracies. I am only relying on memory and trying to explain what meaning I took from the experiment.

From what I remember, one monkey was placed in a cage with a bottom that would shock its feet unless it pressed a button. If it pushed the button, it would delay the shock for a minute. It had to keep pushing the button over and over again to delay the shock. The other monkey was placed in a cage with a bottom that would shock its feet at random intervals for absolutely no reason at all. One monkey could control the shocks, and one was at the mercy of the cage bottom. It was my expectation as a young student that the monkey with no control would feel far more stress than the other, because it could never know when the next shock was coming and could do nothing to prevent it. But it turned out the exact opposite was true. The stress the first monkey felt because of having to push the button to prevent the shock was so strong that it died. The second monkey, the one that had no control, survived.

I agree with Jake that anticipation is often exciting, but for me it’s exciting only when the thing I am anticipating is already well known, tried and true. When it comes to anticipating new things, there is always a possibility that I might be excited but in reality I am much more often scared. In spite of what some might think of submissives (or maybe that’s just me), I am worthless when I am afraid. Scenarios involving candle wax drippings and a Wartenberg wheel spring immediately to mind. Had either of them been sprung on me completely by surprise, without letting me anticipate them, those scenes might not have ended in shambles.

As Jake has said, I am far more receptive and experimental when I am excited. Something that was too large to insert becomes just the right size, or the nipple clamps that used to hurt become accepted or even needed. So to Jake: bring it on. Just, please, make sure I’m warmed up first and don’t tell me what it is in advance!

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